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Chance at a title pulled at Pau Gasol

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Updated: August 20, 2014 6:14AM



Pau Gasol said Friday he turned down other more-lucrative offers when he signed with the Bulls. The free-agent forward was willing to leave money on the table for the ­opportunity to compete for another championship.

“Money wasn’t obviously the priority here,” Gasol said at his introductory news conference. “So I turned down bigger offers and I prioritized being [with] a championship-caliber team and being in a position where I can really, hopefully, push that team over the top with my game as well.”

Turns out Gasol — who left longtime friend and teammate Kobe Bryant behind when he jumped from the Los Angeles Lakers — isn’t he only Bull who gave a little.

Taj Gibson, who for the last four seasons came off the bench behind Carlos Boozer, was told to prepare to be the starter over the summer. Now that Gasol has signed, Gibson likely will remain the sixth man.

Then there was Derrick Rose, who talked on the phone with Gasol about his health after a second season-ending knee injury and the prospect of the two linking up here.

That was quite the switch from the introverted Rose who told Yahoo Sports some three weeks ago that he wouldn’t be involved in the recruitment of players. Joakim Noah was the most vocal Bull, flying to Los Angeles to join in the organization’s in-person pitch to Gasol.

“Their humility, how humble they were and they are, that’s ­really important to not have big egos,” Gasol said. “That makes things a lot easier.

“They’re hungry to win. That’s something that I wanted to also come into. Be a part of a hungry team, a team that is willing to do whatever it takes.”

And while Carmelo Anthony didn’t sign with the Bulls, his return to the New York Knicks factored into Gasol’s decision.

Had Anthony signed with the Lakers, Gasol would have been swayed to stay in Los Angeles.

Gasol, 34, acknowledged that managing his minutes is important. He comes to a team with ready-made depth in the frontcourt.

Although coach Tom Thibodeau said that he didn’t anticipate playing Gasol, Noah and Gibson together, all will all have major roles. That should alleviate Gasol of the pressure of having to play big minutes.

“He’s played at a championship level and that’s important as well,” Thibodeau said.

“You’re looking for veteran leadership and it’s not necessarily the things that they’re saying. It’s more the things they’re doing.”

Email: sgruen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SethGruen



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